During the January meeting of the Highlands Trail Foundation two new members, Sam England and Steven Leyh, were elected to serve on its Board of Directors and AmeriCorp Jessica Black was introduced.
England is well known for his extensive work with West Virginia State Parks spanning a 40-year career that started in 1977 at Twin Falls State Park and culminated with his appointment in 2014 as Chief of WV State Parks & Recreation Section of the DNR. In 2019 he retired for a short while before accepting his current position as General Manager at Canaan Valley Resort. England states, “My life-long love of fishing, hiking, and camping along with outdoor experiences I shared with my family was instrumental in my career path.” He and his wife are the parents of three daughters and have one granddaughter.
Prior to moving to West Virginia, Leyh served as chairman of the Canal Towns Partnership, an economic and community development initiative for nine communities in Maryland and West Virginia along the 184.5-mile C&O Canal National Historical Park. He moved to Tucker County in November 2017, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and a community leader. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the Tucker County Development Authority where his focus is helping businesses grow, encouraging entrepreneurship, and attracting new businesses to the county. He and his family live in Tucker County where they enjoy “hiking, skiing, and savoring the beauty of the area.”
England and Leyh join Foundation Directors and officers Dr. Mary Boyd, Don Black, Fred Sikarski, Teresa Lycliter; Sarah Forbes (Race Director); Bonnie Smith, Secretary; Karen Carper (Treasurer and charter member); Jason Myers, Vice President; and Diane Hinkle, President.
Also introduced was Jessica Black, Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (AFNHA) AmeriCorps Member. Black recently graduated with a degree in public history and a minor in photography. American History, especially the American Revolution and the Civil War, are her favorite areas of study. She is serving as a full time AmeriCorps with the Beverly Heritage Center and a part time AmeriCorps for the Highlands Trail Foundation. According to Black, “The thing I am most excited for while serving the Highlands Trail Foundation is the Blackwater Canyon Half Marathon. I’ll be helping take photos for the event and I can’t wait to put my skills to work!”
The Highlands Trail Foundation is an all-volunteer organization that formed as a 501c3 in 1995. The primary focus of the organization is to create, support, and advance the Allegheny Highlands Trail (AHT) in the Potomac Highlands Region of WV. AHT is a well-known and well-traveled trail that connects 2 counties: Randolph and Tucker; 2 county seats: Elkins and Parsons; and 3 municipalities within Tucker County: Parsons, Hambleton and Hendricks. It is part of a regional trail system that has potential to connect additional communities while promoting healthy lifestyles and adding support to the outdoor recreation economy.
Planning is in progress for the 2021 Highlands Trail Foundation Blackwater Canyon Half Marathon (September 11) and the fall Blackwater Canyon Bike Ride held during Leaf Peepers Festival. Pre-pandemic, the organization hosted an annual booth at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center’s Ramps & Rail Festival and looks forward to continuing that tradition when the Festival returns.
To learn more about Highlands Trail Foundation visit